If the last time you had Sangria, you drank 3 carafes and ended up on the floor in a Benidorm bar, I can understand why the mere mentioning of the word turns your stomach. However, Sangria, Tinto de Verano and other Spanish summer drinks can be quite refreshing.
Tinto de verano, a simple and delightful summer drink, is basically red wine (vino tinto) served with sparkling sweetened soda water. If you ask for a tinto de verano con Casera in our local bar, you will be given the traditional Sprite-type gaseosa whereas ‘con limón’ will give you red wine with sparkling lemon soda. Eithere way it is cheap and cheery, good if one have leftover opened wine and easy to make at home.
The secret to making Sangría is a generous supply of over-ripened fruit. Peaches, pears, apricots, plums and even bananas are great. Traditionally it is made in a large ceramic bowl, though any bowl will of course do. Start by pouring in a bottle of red wine. No point in splurging on expensive wine for this occasion, so we usually by a bottle of ‘plonk’ at the corner store. Next, peel and chop some fruit, the juicier the better. Wedge oranges and lemons, leaving the peel and add some fresh juice, if you have oranges to spare. Some Spanish add a cup or two of sugar, but I skip this step. Finally, add about a liter of lemon soda and/or sparkling water. For special occasions or to get more ‘kick’, add a splurge of brandy, Triple Sec or vodka. Serve with ice in tall glasses, and do not wear your finest whites!
Similar to the world renown mojito, the rebujito is typical to Andalusia, especially consumed during férias and celebrations. Rebujito mixes one part sherry (usually a dry Fino) and one part sparkling soda. Our Spanish friends also add copious amounts of brown sugar. On can also replace the Fino with the slightly more floral Manzanilla. I use tonic or soda water and lemon juice instead of the sweetened Casera, as a matter of taste. Serve the rebujito long over ice with copious amounts of Hierbabuena (‘good herb’). If you cannot find this fragrant member of the mint family, people say that spearmint is the closest relation. Personally, I would rather use lemon balm as a replacement.
As far as cerveza is concerned, other than drinking beer straight, the Spanish will also have ‘una clara’ (beer with Casera soda) or ‘clara con limón’, which is beer with a splash of sparkling lemonade. Both are usually too sweet for my palate, so I usually drink a ‘sin’, meaning beer without alcohol, not very sinful at all…